Ian Smith's words - "England have won the World Cup by the barest of margins. By the barest of all margins. Absolute ecstasy for England. Agony, agony for New Zealand!" - after the last ball of the 2019 World Cup final was bowled have probably gone on to become a part of cricket history. 100 overs, followed by a super over, were not enough to differentiate between the two sides.
And they meet again in an ICC knockout game on Wednesday, with a place in the T20 World Cup final at stake over two years after their epic battle. Tension, controversies, and high-voltage drama were witnessed when these two sides last met in an ICC tournament match.
The Black Caps, since then, have won the World Test Championship to make this a clash between bona fide champions. They will be gunning for revenge here in the 20-over format of the game as they compete in their fourth successive ICC tournament semi-final. They were the dark horses for this competition, as they generally tend to be. Ever since losing their opening Super 12 fixture against Pakistan, New Zealand have gone from strength to strength, winning their following four matches to book their place in the semi-finals.
Meanwhile, England would be flying high after they topped Group 1 having won the first four matches but the defeat against South Africa in the last game has somehow kept their feet on the ground for now. There might be some loopholes in their bowling attack but the Poms will definitely take the field as favourites as they have ticked most of the boxes in the tournament so far.
Whoever wins powerplay, wins the match?
The powerplay will undoubtedly play a vital role in the match. It might be safe to say whoever wins the battle in the powerplay, will have an upper hand in the game. Both teams have a fine record in the first six overs, both batting and bowling wise.
England have a batting RR of 8.33 in the powerplay so far in this tournament, the best in the tournament and they have the tournament's second-highest run-getter in Jos Buttler. New Zealand are not too far behind either with a powerplay RR of 7.53 but their average of 37.66 is slightly higher than that of England's 31.25.
Abu Dhabi has been most favourable for seamers in the powerplay. Seamers average just 17.38 at 5.92 runs per over. It will be interesting to see the combination of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Adam Milne giving England's fiery top order their toughest 20 minutes that will seal the fortune for either side.
Kiwis have to capitalise on England's poor death bowling
England's death bowling in the tournament has surprisingly been poor. Apart from Chris Jordan, who goes at 9.65 an over, all the other options - Chris Woakes, Tom Curran, Mark Wood and David Willey - have conceded more than 10 runs per over at the death. Besides, they will miss the service of Tymal Mills as he is out of the tournament with an injury.
South Africa in their final Super 12 game against England, scored 49 runs in the last four overs. This was the only time England's death bowling was properly tested in the tournament. New Zealand will definitely look to follow SA's template by keeping wickets in hand and maximising at the death rather than going hard first-up.
Roy's absence forces England to alter things, Morgan's form a worry
Jason Roy was the Player of the Match in England's last men's T20 World Cup semi-final, hitting 78 off 44 balls against New Zealand in 2016. And his injury has come as a huge blow to England. They have included James Vince as the replacement. But it will be interesting to see if they pick another batter or a specialist bowler in the playing eleven.
The likelihood is that Sam Billings will slot into the middle order with either Dawid Malan or Jonny Bairstow moving up to open with the in-form Jos Buttler.
Eoin Morgan enjoyed his career-best form in 2019 and 2020 but 2021 has been pretty poor for him. He averages only 17.59 and strikes at 118. England's middle-order is hardly tested in the tournament and Morgan's poor form will cause them some sort of headache ahead of the clash.
Moeen, Livingstone got some work to do with the ball
Offspinning all-rounders Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone have picked up 11 wickets and have conceded less than six runs per over in the tournament so far. And they have a vital role to play as the fifth bowler against New Zealand's lower-middle order that consists of Devon Conway, James Neesham and Santner - three left-handers. Moeen and Livingstone will look to concede as little as possible besides taking their wickets and breaking the backbone of NZ's lower-middle order.
The two teams will lock horns in Abu Dhabi at 8 pm BDST.